I opened the West of Olympia online store about a month ago, so I thought I’d take a minute and let you all know what’s been going on. A lot of people seem to read these (which is super cool!), so I’d love to just make this blog post less formal and a little more conversational.
First of all, thank you so much for all of the support. I know that’s a worn out phrase, but seriously, I mean every word of it. There are a million products out there for wet shavers, and I’m so happy you’ve chosen mine to be among the ones you use. So, thank you. I look forward to many more interactions with you.
What’s Been Good
I sold a bunch more than what I anticipated I would in my first month. I actually struggled to keep up. You may have noticed I was sold out of a product or two on more than one occasion. The good news there is I’m finally at a point where my production quantities and the demand seem to be lining up, so hopefully stock-outs become rarer and rarer.
It’s generally not wise for a business to disclose sales numbers, but because I like being transparent, I’ll say that I’ve sold somewhere between 50 and 150 units in my first month. It’s been such a fun and challenging learning experience managing that.
Perhaps more important, people really seem to be liking the products. I haven’t had a single complaint. Unfortunately, the law of averages tells me that that probably won’t remain the case forever… but nonetheless, I feel that I have enough of a customer base now that I can say the products hold their own in the market. You never REALLY know how your product will be received until it is in the hands of a customer, so that’s a very important milestone.
What’s Been Challenging
The most difficult part about this venture for me is the need to be a jack of all trades. In addition to being a soap chemistry subject matter expert, you’ve gotta be well-versed in FDA regulations, various tax laws, domain hosting, ecommerce, customer service, purchasing / inventory management, financials, and a host of other disciplines. It’s all great from a learning experience standpoint, but it can be a little bit deflating when you sit down to get to work on a new fragrance blend, but you find yourself researching chargebacks and fraudulent orders an hour later.
The time commitment can also be demanding at times. I’m careful not to overburden myself; this is still a hobby for me. Even so, fulfilling orders takes time. Making soap takes time. Enhancing the website takes time. Not to mention I’ve got a full time job! So my life certainly has another element in it since starting this, but I’m a big believer in the notion that we MAKE time for things that are important to us; it’s prioritization that sometimes we’re not so good at.
What’s Coming Up
If you follow @westofolympia on Instagram, you’ve probably seen that I’m in the final stages of testing out a new scent for The Original Collection. I’ll be making an announcement about the exact fragrance accord hopefully in the next week or so. Ideally, I’d like to have that one up on the site and available for sale by the end of this month into the beginning of December. That may vary depending on how these test batches work out.
Further, I’m dug into the idea that I’ll be introducing a whole new shaving soap collection in the first part of 2018. It’ll be a completely redesigned base with new packaging. The Original Collection soaps are meant to deliver the basics well. I think any business needs to be able to prove they can do that. This new formulation is going to be my foray into a more premium product experience. I’ve done an insane amount of ingredient research. I’m after a very specific lather texture. My goal with this one is to create a product that is truly a direct comparable to some of the best in the world. And I’m up for the challenge! More to come.
As always I really appreciate all of you. Thanks for reading. Until next time,
PS If you shave with a West of Olympia soap, tag @westofolympia in your shave of the day on Instagram and I will always give you a shout-out and repost it!